Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Florence poses a contrast to Gabriel, though she is his sister. Gabriel is weak in mind, while she is mentally strong. From childhood, she shoulders the responsibility of running the house along with her mother and takes care of Gabriel in her motherís absence from the house. Later, she attends to her sick mother and also goes out to work to earn a living. Even as Gabriel spends his time and money on debauchery she struggles hard to keep the home fires burning. However, when her White master asks her to become his mistress, she decides to put her foot down. She quits her job and walks out of her home. She does not want to taint her character by submitting to the wishes of her master and thus, bids goodbye to her mother to escape from the city. She does feel guilty about deserting her sick mother, but circumstances compel her to do so. Florence possesses great courage and determination to fight against the odds of life and establish her identity.
Florence is unlucky in life. Endowed with good looks and intelligence, she fails to get the recognition she deserves. In childhood, she desires to have fun like other children but is denied these simple pleasures. Instead of spending time on the playground, she is made to share the work of her mother at home and attend to her little brother. Later, she shows interest in attending school, but her mother prefers her to stay at home in order to send Gabriel to school. Florence sacrifices her education for her brotherís sake, even though she is more capable of handling studies than Gabriel.
She acts as a devoted daughter and a responsible girl by taking care of her ailing mother and earning an income to run the house. However, she is unable to continue with her duties towards her family, when her White master threatens to exploit her. She leaves for New York, to begin a new life. She gets a job and also a husband but her life is far from satisfactory. Frank is a good man and a lover, but fails to provide her security. He is addicted to alcohol and wastes the little money he earns on trifles. Thus, he fails to share the burden of running the house with Florence. Florence tries to reform him but Frank finds it difficult to change. Thus, they get separated. Florence is once again left alone to sort out her life and her problems.
Florence is good at heart and thus, is unable to tolerate injustice. As a young girl, she had seen Deborah being abused by young men after a white man had raped her. She had sympathized with Deborah and condemned all young men who cast evil eyes on her. She had hated Gabriel for shirking his responsibilities and indulging in vices like drinking and womanizing. Later, when she receives a letter from Deborah about Gabriel bastard son, she decides to confront her brother about it and expose his licentious past. When she observes Gabriel behaving autocratically with Elizabeth and Roy, she reminds him of his careless, youthful days. Finally, she warns her brother from acting tough with his wife and children in the future. She is angry with Gabriel for acting hypocritically and arrogantly.
Florence comes across as a woman who is used by the people she had loved and deprived of her due in life. She cuts a sorry figure as she stands in front of the Lord asking for his mercy. Getting on in years and rid with the pain of her disease, she needs support and care but is left to fend for herself. In her helpless state, she seems pathetic and earns the sympathy of her readers. However, after confronting Gabriel and exposing his sins, she feels relieved. She had obeyed her conscience and stirred the soul of a sinner. Now, she waits for god to pronounce His judgement on her.